China: selling coffee starting from the South

by Carlo Odello *

 Chinese people drink wine, they like it. But the wine they drink is French, not Italian…. They are starting to drink coffee, too, and here the risk is that in the future they will not drink Italian espresso, but the espresso of other countries.

Bloomberg reports that in China the per capita consumption of coffee totals about 22 grams per year. Yes, 22 grams (while Japan, a much more mature market, has a per capita consumption of around 3.3 kilos). Chinese people associate coffee to Western lifestyle, and this is why they drink it. But they are certainly not absent-minded consumers. Accustomed to a highly complex and refined cuisine, they are now discovering the sensory potential of coffee.

Where do we start then, with Italian espresso in China? Shanghai and Beijing are an immediate solution, but there are more interesting prospects in the region of Guangdong, in the South. Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is the capital of this region which is almost twice the size of Italy, with a population of 17 million people. Guangzhou is the third largest city in China. If a food product sells well in Guangzhou, it sells well all over China. The same phenomenon does not necessarily occur when a product sells well in Shanghai or Beijing.

This is why the International Institute of Coffee Tasters started its training courses in Guangzhou. We completed the first Coffee Taster Licensing course last December, and another will soon be held.

* Trainer and member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters

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